Every other day you’ll hear of a new collaboration between some brand, designer, and celebrity, but rarely there’s one that travels outside the vicinity of that winning trifecta. Not until recently that is, global sports lifestyle brand Puma has teamed up with… media? Not just any media mind you, but effin’ Hypebeast, arguably the biggest street fashion and lifestyle site to date. The result is a 2 pack sneaker design called the ‘Dim Sum Project’, obviously inspired by the iconic Hong Kong dish. JUICE had a chance to meet Eugene Kan, Managerial Editor of Hypebeast and Puma Lifestyle Footwear Designer Jon Tang in Hong Kong as they gave us insight on everything from the creative process of the project to the negative response of the ‘Dim Sum Project’ from Hypebeast fans.
What were your roles in this project?
Jon Tang I basically help Hypebeast on the Puma side – just really take their ideas and concept and really make it happen in terms of development on the footwear side to even the packaging, making their ideas come to life in the most efficient and creative way. On my side that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
Eugene Kan I oversaw and project managed everything but all the ideas, brainstorming and the conceptualising was all a team effort. Everyone gets involved because it’s how I like to treat my team. You might have been in Hypebeast for 4 months but I don’t necessarily think that your ideas are any less valid. Maybe it doesn’t work in its most original form but we can mould it and shape it into something that makes sense. I think that’s really important. That’s how the whole culture is changing. It’s not just 1 guy who rules with an iron fist.
Hypebeast is very selective about some of the people they work with. What’s the reason this Puma project got the green light?
EK Unless you’re a retailer or a personality, it’s quite difficult to get a collaboration with a big brand. Obviously we understand the power of online media and if someone’s willing to share that vision and understanding, then we’re very interested in working with them. Hypebeast was never a flat out sneaker blog, it was more like streetwear, street culture blog and it’s really cool to have that opportunity because it doesn’t come around every single day. That in itself throws back to why we got involved with this whole industry to begin with. We’re wearing a design – everyone buys shoes – but the joy in how people can take creativity and put it on a platform that is footwear. Footwear itself is pretty consumable, everyone needs to wear shoes, it’s kind of democratic. It’s not only a few select people that can get into it.
You say that these opportunities don’t come around every day. We find that quite surprising because a site like Hypebeast would probably get every opportunity like this one.
EK I think that it’s different for media. People aren’t necessarily that quick to jump to media but I think brands will. I mean, people want to do collaborations – we’ve been doing a few more collaborations of late but it’s more targeted at the Hypebeast store, because like I said, it’s easier to do it on that spectrum. But also for us, Hypebeast is an online platform, it doesn’t really sort of have any physical, tangible element to it and when you can create something like this, it’s like “Hey, you know what? People can actually have a piece of Hypebeast.” That’s important too, because we only exist online. That’s why we have the magazine.
How was the creative process of this project?
EK It was a long time ago, like, over a year. When it got pitched to us, Puma Asia was trying to put together some collaborations that represented not just the city but the region. Hypebeast isn’t really a “Hong Kong” website, we’re an internet website so at first we thought “Hey, does this really relate to us because we exist strictly online!” But you know what? We are not ashamed of Hong Kong by any means and a lot of people that work at Hypebeast has strong roots to Hong Kong so this was great opportunity for us to a) design footwear that doesn’t really come around in conceptualised footwear, b) create a physical product and c) kind of pay homage to something that’s important to us as well; food and Hong Kong culture. That was the premise of it and that was the kind of the creative brief. It was never a very difficult process, it came about very naturally.
How did dimsum become the dish to carry the concept of Hong Kong food and culture?
EK The thing is that we wanted something that was very iconic to Hong Kong. At first, for the longest time food, if used correctly, could be integrated into a lot of things in terms of design. I’ve always been very fascinated with how chefs approach food because that in itself is an art, so what can you take from dimsum and apply it to footwear? It was definitely not that difficult. Looking back, if you’re in the sneaker world and you follow it, it’s not that crazy of a concept. so it wasn’t that all fresh, I felt. Yeah, there were a lot of people that have done this.
JT Even though it is just food, many others have done this concept and it wasn’t too crazy, but we could still take that idea and really make our own interesting take on it.
EK And make the packaging more comprehensive. If you look around us, we didn’t really approach the conventional route, we really took a lot of time and effort.
JT It’s really amazing that a lot of the stuff we brainstormed and thought about is actually here now. We kept through to that idea and we kept pushing it because we’re so passionate about it, because we thought all of these were good ideas. And we did all that in a year.